Serious concerns about architects are rare. On the limited occasions they do occur, as the UK regulator we are here to ensure standards, and therefore trust, in the profession is maintained. We hope the information published about conduct and competence decisions provides useful learning points for others.
On 20 September 2019 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued architect Debbie Flevotomou, of Debbie Flevotomou Architects Ltd, Mayfair with a penalty order of £1,000 after she admitted unacceptable professional conduct.
Ms Flevotomou was retained to assist her client with a loft conversion and the replacement of windows throughout their property. The client contacted ARB following an inappropriate response from Ms Flevotomou to their complaint about her service.
Following an investigation, Ms Flevotomou accepted she had not entered into a written agreement with her client which adequately covered the terms of engagement, contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. She also accepted that she submitted an inaccurate planning application and that the subsequent conditional approval was issued on the basis of the incorrect information contained within the planning application. Ms Flevotomou finally accepted her responses to the complaint submitted to her by her client were inappropriate and unprofessional, and for which she subsequently apologised.
Ms Flevotomou waived her right to have the case heard at a public hearing, and agreed that the decision could be made by the PCC on the basis of the papers alone.
The PCC found these failings to be serious breaches of the Architects Code which had the potential to diminish both the architect’s reputation and that of the profession generally, but took note of Ms Flevotomou’s admissions and the fact that she had engaged fully in the regulatory process. It considered a penalty order of £1,000 to be the appropriate and proportionate sanction.
A copy of the Consent Order can be found here.
Notes for Editors
• The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.
Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the UK qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects
• ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
• The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The PCC determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.
Where a guilty finding is made, the PCC will consider whether to make a disciplinary order, which means:
– a reprimand
– a penalty order
– a suspension order (to a maximum of 2 years); or
– an erasure order
• Money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.
• Where an architect admits unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence and the proposed disciplinary sanction, the PCC can impose that penalty by consent, and without the need for a hearing.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett, Communications Lead on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.